It's a Freud's fault, really.
Even though the term midlife crisis was coined by Elliott Jaques in 1965, fellow disciples of Sigmund thought it sounded plausible, based on the fear of impending death combined with regrets about the past. Fortunately, academic research since the 1980s rejects the notion that midlife crisis is a phase most people actually experience.
Sticking with psychology, Jungian theory holds that midlife is key to individuation, a process of self-actualization and self-awareness. That may result in a confusing transitional phase, but it's ultimately a positive process.
Jung may have been on to something, which supports the idea of the mid-career crisis (although crisis is the wrong word). Our increasing self-awareness can cause us to call into question our life's work to that point, often when we're at the height of success.
Gen Xers are doing it for themselves
Of course, the world of work and society at large is indifferent to our plight. Author Marc Freedman suggests that we talk about a midlife chasm instead of a midlife crisis: a gap between the substantial support people need in middle age and the meager support society gives us.
Recent evidence from the fields of economics, psychology, and neuroscience shows that humans tend to go through a kind of emotional reboot around midlife. Once rebooted, we get the upside of the U-shaped effect on life satisfaction — and things start to get really good.
At some point, hopefully, society and employers begin to adapt to and value midlife workers by offering training, flexibility, and financial aid. In the meantime (as always), it's up to us.
I'd argue that the key to transitional success at midlife is an emphasis on learning. You know lifelong learning is the new norm in order to stay economically viable, but perhaps let's not view it as a burden.
If you want to avoid losing a step in your cognitive performance, keep learning new things — it's great for your brain. And when you're on a journey of reinvention, pushing yourself in new directions can reveal important clues to what's next.
The essential skill: Learning how to learn
Have we ever truly learned how to learn, though? Most of us went through school with repetition and rote memorization offered as the way it's done — and we now know those are some of the least effective learning strategies.
You can develop true expertise, for example, when you have to explain what you've learned to someone else, thanks to the act of retrieval. Then there's metacognition (thinking about thinking) and reflection — things we get better at as we get a bit older, as long we remain mindful of what's going on in our heads.
Plus, as adult learners, we have to have clear objectives about what we want to learn. And what we need to learn first and foremost is how best to learn.
Learning Is a Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better at It (Harvard Business Review)
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By Brian Clark
Moving more is the key to a host of physical and mental benefits, and working a walk into your day is an easy way to get it done. And since we also need to get enough sleep, it’s a good thing that a daily walk will also help you sleep, improve your mood, and give you more energy.
When you have insomnia, you feel like crap. Previous studies have shown that intense physical exercise will help you sleep, but that can be counterintuitive when you’re feeling zapped to begin with. Newer research shows that taking a simple walk can improve your sleep as well.
That said, there are some criteria to meet here. Here’s how to walk your way to a blissful night’s sleep.
Feel the need for speed
First up, this isn’t a lazy stroll we’re talking about. You’ll need to achieve moderate-to-vigorous intensity, which means a fairly brisk pace. Doctor Susan Besser says you’ll know you’re hitting a high enough pace if you can’t sing or whistle while you’re walking.
Next, it’s smart to be consistent. Walk every day for 25 – 30 minutes in order to promote restful sleep on a regular basis.
And finally, there’s a certain time of the day that’s best to take that walk. In order to best defend against insomnia, the National Sleep Foundation recommends walking in the afternoon to early evening. Close enough to bedtime, but not too close.
Take me for the walk
Does walking beat other forms of exercise? Not at all, except for the ease of doing it. It takes no special equipment or preparation — just walk out the door and get the additional benefits of nature as a bonus.
But whether you’re doing tai chi, yoga, running, or cycling — the important thing is to make it a daily habit. And don’t do it too close to bedtime, or you may find yourself amped up and ironically unable to fall asleep.
Exercise has so many other benefits, so sleeping better may seem like the cherry on top. But if you’re chronically sleep deprived, you could find yourself motivated first and foremost by anything that can help you get healthy, natural sleep.
By Trudi Roth
If you had to label how Generation X’s financial situation is portrayed, the phrase “dazed and confused” springs to mind.
On one hand, we’re increasingly in positions of power and, according to Deloitte, on track to experience the highest increase in the share of wealth — from under 14% of total net worth to 31% by 2030. So we’re killing it, right?
So while we’re not the kind to enjoy being told we have to play catch-up, the truth is that as a group that may live significantly longer, we do need to plan for financial longevity.
The Nest Egg Principle
Your fiscal planning approach shouldn’t necessarily come from a pop culture reference, but The Nest Egg Principle pretty much sums up what we were all taught:
The egg is a protector like a god, and we sit under the nest egg and we are protected by it. Without it, no protection.
The angst over not having enough saved is real. A recent survey of Gen-Xers across all income levels shows that more than half of us say we lack the knowledge to manage our own finances correctly.
Moreover, 70-percent of us see financial planning as either moderately to extremely complex, and 56-percent report having major anxiety about managing money. And while we happily use technology to manage most aspects of our lives, a mere seven percent said that they use digital financial tools.
The verdict? Almost all surveyed said they’d be open to working with a financial advisor, if they could find the right one.
How to find your financial advisor
Before you even think about how to approach finding the right person, consider what you really need. It can run the gamut between a full-on plan and regular check-ins with an accountability partner to an occasional arrangement.
The first step is to get your goals on paper, and then look for the right fit, taking care to check on their certification. Also important to note is if a potential advisor is independent or work for a specific company and only sell their products.
Finally, consider working with a fiduciary, who is bound by law to consider your best interests first, rather than a financial planner who is not legally obligated as such. While there are fees involved, you can ask to see how that works out over time, to ensure your investment is small in comparison to how your nest egg grows.
Because after all, we’re hatching plans to keep going, and that will take some doing.
- Why More Gen Xers Prefer Professional Financial Advice (Financial Advisor magazine)
- GEN X Time To Get Serious About Retirement Planning (Forbes)
Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
Face Value, 1981
And the award for the sleekest, most melodramatic drum break in music history goes to …. In the Air Tonight, the debut solo single from Phil Collins. As Mike Tyson says in the Hangover, “Shhh … this is my favorite part coming up right now.” See also: Miami Vice. (YouTube)
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